Tag Archives: Christian

Is it Really Okay for a Christian to Say “No, I Cannot Help You”? (Part 3)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

two man hiking on snow mountain
Photo by Flo Maderebner on Pexels.com

Saying yes to our and God’s priorities, means saying no to extra service opportunities that take up our time and resources. This is not to say we never help or become involved! In the last two posts and today’s, I show you that love practices boundaries.

Godly boundaries focus on what God has already asked of us. This leads to a life balance in which we can glorify God with peace, joy, and freedom in Christ.

1. Aren’t boundaries selfish? I’m supposed to be focusing on others. Boundaries are godly because they allow us to be who God wants. God blesses us with individual purposes. If we say yes to gain approval from humans, we may become co-dependent or a doormat. Living for someone’s happiness means we are not living to please God. We will not develop into the person he designed.

God also blesses us with individual purposes

Jesus refused distractions. In the end, he was able to say to our Heavenly Father, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

2. If I do not do help, who will?  Boundaries are godly because they allow others to step up and grow. In light of individual purposes, by taking on too much we may interfere with growth opportunities for another Christian. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 12:6, “There are different kinds of working, but in all of  them and in everyone it is the same God at work.”

3, I want people to know they can count on me. How do boundaries fit in?  Boundaries are godly because people need to depend on the Lord. By playing savior and trying to fix people or their problems, we deny them the learning process we all need to grow in faith. We have this declaration, “I am at rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I will never be shaken” (Psalm 62:1,2.

Today’s Helpful Word  

Proverbs 3:5-6

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him (our agendas and daily schedules), and he will make your paths straight.”

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

Is it Really Okay for a Christian to Say “No, I Cannot Help You”? (Part 2)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

adult blur close up cold
Photo by Brigitte Tohm on Pexels.com

As Christians, we are often taught to give of oneself, to share, and to help where we can. “Love your neighbor” is a call many of us take seriously.

However, boundaries are wise. In the last post, this one and the next, I tell you why.

1. How can boundaries be loving? Boundaries are godly because they free us to love our neighbor . Have you helped until you were over your head? Were you tempted to shut yourself in and never again say yes to anyone? Contrary to what we often assume, love sets boundaries.

Individuals who actually make a difference in positive, meaningful, and effective ways, are careful not to make easy promises. By this they avoid failing to deliver on impulsively offered ones. When we learn healthy boundaries, we remain a steadfast friend, as supposed to walking away in frustration.

Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Even the Good Samaritan did not stick around to serve the beaten man hand and foot. After doing what he could, he went on to live his own life.

2. What about Christian duty?  Boundaries are godly because they prevent resentment and allow us to give with joy. In 2 Corinthians 9:7, Paul the Apostle is thanking the Corinthian church for offering a generous gift to struggling believers in Macedonia. He wrote, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”

This concept is not only about money. We give of our time and energy best if we know when to say no.

3.  I say yes if a church leader needs me. That’s godly submission, right?  Boundaries are godly because saying no is often self-control. We said yes to certain responsibilities when we married, had children, accepted a job, or built up debt. It is God’s will for us to mind the promises we have made. Potential good deeds that stop us from obeying him in these matters must be rejected, however noble they are. This takes self-control. The result is freedom. In Proverbs 15:28 we read, “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers.”

Today’s Helpful Word  

Galatians 5: 22-23a, 25

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. …Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”

 

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Is it Really Okay for a Christian to Say “No, I Cannot Help You”? (Part 1)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness   (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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If you feel unkind unless you agree to help when asked, consider the following.

Boundaries are what we stop ourselves from accepting in our lives, not what we stop another person from doing. We have no control over people’s choices or external events. How we choose to react is our responsibility.

1. Are boundaries a godly choice?  Jesus set this example. When the Savior of the world preached and healed the crying masses, he did not stay and fix everyone’s problems. He was teaching us that it is not only necessary to say no sometimes, it is godly to love fully with boundaries in place.

2. It is easier to say yes when I mean no. How can boundaries help? Boundaries are godly because they keep us honest. Have you agreed, with a smile, to volunteer in the church while inwardly groaning, “Noooooooooo”? Of course Christians who are serious about their faith want to show love. However, Romans 12:9 says, “Love must be sincere…”

Sometimes, secret preferences are expressed through indirect means like passive/aggressive behavior, manipulation, complaining, or anger. For these reasons, expressing honest boundaries is kind.

If time, skill, or energy are lacking, we do not have to pretend we are available. Ephesians 4:25-30 tells us “Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body.“

3. Isn’t it best to patiently wait for a person to change?  Boundaries are godly because they prevent us from enabling sin. God held to boundaries with ancient Israel. He set out laws, and warned against breaking them. Those who insisted on rebellion sometimes received further warning. Finally, he removed his blessings until they repented. This was love. He knew his way was best for all concerned.

This principle guides us in toxic situations and relationships in which we end up making excuses for the one who wrongs us. We continue to move our boundaries to accommodate them, and eventually lose our peace of mind (or safety).

Arrows shot in our direction are not ours to catch! Proverbs 22:3 says “ A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge…“

Today’s Helpful Word  

Mark 1:35-39 
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages— so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

**** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

 

 

 

A Visit to Rehab: The Greatest of These is Love

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who fight mental illness, addiction, and abuse  (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministries

This past Sunday, I drove to Chicago.  The director of alumni events at a rehabilitation center had invited me to speak with residents on Monday. 

Morning came early. While much of the U.S.A. was arising and heading to work or school, these women  continued the fight  to gain recovery from addiction, eating disorders, mental health challenges, or all three. Excited and a little nervous, I left the hotel to join them.

Women in the rehab program advance in liberties as they progress. This time, my audience consisted of women in the process of learning to make healthier choices without constant supervision.  They are well on their way to going home, clean and sober. In fact, a few of them  graduated that day!

Most people in recovery have been told numerous times they are worthless, many since childhood. As part of my story,  I shared the reality of God’s love and message. I added, “I am a Christian, born-again, a follower of Jesus. But those are only words. Hopefully, my life reflects who he is.” Everyone nodded. 

America today hears much rhetoric about Christians, evangelicals in particular, and the mix of religion with politics as if faith in Jesus and a certain political party are one and the same.  It is difficult for those who do not know, to grasp who Jesus actually is. 

In some ways, the standard for Christians is raised. Show me you mean it. Show me you do not hate or despise me. Match your choices to your words. Prove your faith by your love. In extending love and compassion, and sincere non-critical acceptance to people in all stages of their journey, we represent God as the Bible reveals him.*

Mental health treatment in this country is greatly lacking. It is not available everywhere,  and is expensive for most.  Parity in the insurance realm is inconsistent. There are few standards by which to measure how long a patient should stay in a hospital.

In my opinion, stigma and lack of knowledge are the primary reasons we do not take care of mentally ill and emotionally unstable people. There is judgment – “I do not believe in mental health disability, I just don’t.”  “Depression is not an illness,  with enough faith (or strength) anyone can snap out of it.” “You are adopting the principles of the world if you give psychology any merit.” 

All these have been said to me, about me, plus many more accusations of failure. If I could describe  the beauty of joy and hope in the faces of the women I met on Monday,  perhaps more could see the value of mental (some call it behavioral) healthcare.  Maybe  God could get some credit for knowing what he is doing in each person’s life! 

Meanwhile, it is tremendous joy being vulnerable and open with people in the middle of the struggle. They, as do we all, respond to love.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 10:46-52

Then they came to Jericho. As Jesus and his disciples, together with a large crowd, were leaving the city, a blind man, Bartimaeus (which means “son of Timaeus”), was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Many rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

Jesus stopped and said, “Call him.”

So they called to the blind man, “Cheer up! On your feet! He’s calling you.” Throwing his cloak aside, he jumped to his feet and came to Jesus.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked him.

The blind man said, “Rabbi, I want to see.”

“Go,” said Jesus, “your faith has healed you.” Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.

***** COMMENTS ALWAYS WELCOME

NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental and behavioral health challenges.  In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S.  (for international emergency numbers, go here ), or go to your nearest emergency room. Do not be alone. Hope and help are yours.

-woman pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; Jesus pic from freebibleimages.org

*This does not imply avoidance of the topic of sin. As seen in my work s a whole, my emphasis is how we approach people. Are we interested in gaining insight into another person’s struggle? Jesus showed sincere non-critical acceptance to hurting people, and in the context of meeting their needs, taught them to know him.   

Beware Wolves in Sheep Clothing: Accepting Blatant Abuse in View of God’s Mercy (2)

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness, Addiction, and Abuse   (c)2018  Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

Part 1 of this series was published September 2017

Abuse is in our American society’s collective consciousness lately.  First came a sea of sex abuse and rape allegations against famous men.  We watched giants fall, and former victims rise. 

More recently, we stare in disbelief as  parents in California were finally arrested for having chained and starved their thirteen children. In that community at least, professionals are discussing with the public how to spot and react to abusive behaviors. 

What fascinates me is current responses from people who knew abuse or a crime was committed and did nothing about it.  Some make excuses, others apologize, and a few seem stunned at the suggestion they should have involved themselves at all. 

I pity those family members and neighbors of the family in California who are second-guessing past decisions. One man said he has not been sleeping well since he found out how his young neighbors suffered. Several of those interviewed have expressed regret and guilt, and wondered aloud what they could-have-should-have done differently. 

We do not know what we do not know

We can relate to them because scant few of us know what to do, when to do it, and whether it is appropriate to call attention to bizarre behavior that may or may not be abusive. 

In the Christian church, at least in the more conservative churches to which I’m most familiar,  the topic of abuse is often ignored. In the broader American culture,  abuse is a taboo topic. For that reason, good intentions do not always know what questions to ask, where to search for answers, and how to incorporate safeguards.

The whole truth

We teach mercy and forgiveness in our Sunday services. Rarely does anyone preach on self-protection, the rights of victims, or preventive measures.  I have not seen an abuser held accountable to the point of being thrown out of the church. 

The Bible addresses true justice. It tells us to be wise. It warns us against showing favoritism.  We are commanded to expose sin, to keep the Church pure of evil and hypocrisy,  and to stand up for the oppressed.

When we do not emphasize those things, it is victims who leave the church, not  abusers. 

Don’t be wrong

Wolves dress like sheep and enter our sanctuaries – our homes, churches, and schools.  We buy into the gimmick and find ourselves hard-pressed to reconsider it. 

Wolves are counting on our rationalizations, excuse-making, and purposeful blindness. We fear being wrong. 

So. don’t. be. wrong.

Learn.

Go to https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/domestic-violence-and-abuse.htm for a healthy and robust beginning to your wiser self.  

Speaking up is the only way to pull the mask off a predator and end abuse.

Today’s Helpful Word 

 

 

 

 

 

Why ‘Mental Health and Recovery Advocacy’ is Important for Christians. Part 3

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

A girl eats too much. Is she a glutton, mentally unhealthy, or both? Could it be she is not used to having enough food, has a thyroid problem, or is taking medication that makes her ravenous? Maybe her family taunts her when she tries to eat healthier than they do. Perhaps it is her way of protecting herself from more sexual assault. 

No behavioral issue is as simple as it looks on the surface.  That is why it is such a gift of grace to know that God looks at our hearts – our intentions, and deep motives. He sees beyond where humans judge.*

Mental Health and Recovery Advocacy is promotion of that higher ideal with a challenge to all. Look beyond what your eyes tell you, take the time to ask gentle questions, and choose to love a person with the respect that allows her to share her story. **

There is an unfortunate confusion.  I suspect in the Christian faith, and perhaps in other religions as well, that stigma surrounding mental illness translates a person’s difficulty into “spiritual problem.”

Inside and outside Christian circles, openness about my struggle with major depression recurrent has brought funny looks. Prospective employers dismiss me after a Google search. I lost my radio show sponsor last summer due to his fear. In general, where stigma exists, there is anger, distrust, and disapproval. 

Let’s get it straight

Misunderstanding is based on the assumption that mental illness and its symptoms are mere choices. By that misguided standard, if we are not joyous and hopeful we stand to be condemned as weak or attention-seekers. Hearing voices is “crazy” and makes a person less-than. Suicidal ideation is a character flaw. 

Do we with mental illness need to love and obey God? Yes, and he is often the only hope we know. However, since we cannot know the intricacies of another’s suffering, it is unfair to tell anyone in the struggle of their life  that stability is simply a matter of choice. 

Thinking errors may necessarily have to be addressed before an understanding of God’s Word can take full effect. Traumatic pasts create warped worldviews. Dysfunctional families do not pass down the tools necessary for healthy giving and receiving of love. 

Changing my stinkin’ thinkin’  was driven by a desire to honor God.  Yet in the five decades prior, he did not turn his back to me. Jesus stands with us in our confusion.  

God is present in the middle of our gravest mental illnesses, in our despair, cognitive impairment, and false beliefs. He is with us while we practice addict behaviors in motels, empty warehouses, and during our self-loathing. We stuff our faces and pride, and he is there. We lie for the fiftieth time, and he knows us better than we do. If all we can muster in our darkness is ”help,” he hears and honors that heart-cry.

The psalmist indicates his faith by writing, “O LORD, God of my salvation…,”  yet adds, “I am in a trap with no way of escape. My eyes are blinded by my tears. Each day I beg for your help, O LORD; I lift my hands to you for mercy.” 

Love points to the character of God.

In all of our imperfection,  God is meeting us where we are, and loving us back into healthy bodies, minds, and souls as we let him. Since he who knows us intimately is patient with our limitations, how can we not advocate for each person who suffers?

Knowledge and insight produce the best spiritual fruits of kindness, goodness, and gentleness. God is love, and that is our calling.

Today’s Helpful Word

Proverbs 14:10

“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can fully share its joy.” 

********

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*”If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread our hands in prayer to foreign gods, God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart.” Psalm 44: 20, 21

*”The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7

**”A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.” Proverbs 15:14

***Psalm 88

-heart pic by LUSI on rgbstock.com; couple pic from Kozzi.com

Why ‘Mental Health and Recovery Advocacy’ is Important for Christians. Part 2

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2017  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

“Recovery” is a bad word to a few staunch leaders in the Christian faith. So is “addiction.”  Apparently to some, we are not to recover, but repent. We are not addicts, but habitual sinners. As a Christian of the born-again variety with an Evangelical bent, and as a mental health and recovery advocate, I do not see the above terms as mutually exclusive.

Reality is, being conquered by a behavior we no longer control makes us ill.  Our spiritual, physical, and mental health need help. If one wants to insist ‘repentance’ is the better word choice, let him keep in mind that all sin has painful consequences. Turning from sinful behavior most certainly involves some measure of recovery, does it not?

I am not arguing for a victim mentality, excuses, or a lifestyle of self-destruction.

The prophet Isaiah* wrote, “Stop doing wrong!” We must humbly stand before God. As is true with any behavior (whether in thought, word, or deed) that does not reflect God’s holy nature, change must begin with sorrow for grieving him, and a sincere decision to turn our lives and will over to him.

The 12 Steps and the BIble

That is only the beginning, however.  Isaiah added, “Learn to do right.” Immediately upon choosing to stop doing wrong, of necessity we must completely depend on God for staying clean, sober, or abstinent.  This is the recovery process.

Popular, statistically successful, and might I add Biblical steps to recovery as promoted by 12-step anonymous groups, are rich with what we Christians call repentance, confession, and “sanctification” (the process of overcoming our tendency toward sin).  See the comparisons below.

  • Step one:  Admit we are powerless over [our addiction] –  that our lives have become unmanageable. “I have discovered this principle of life–that when I want to do what is right, I inevitably do what is wrong.” – St Paul in Romans 7:21
  • Step two: Come to believe that a Power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.  “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death? Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” – St Paul in Romans 7:24, 25
  • Step three: Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God. “Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” – St Paul in Romans 6:16
  • Step four:  Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. “But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.”  – John, disciple of Jesus in 1 John 1:9,10
  • Step five:  Admit to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs. “Finally, I confessed all my sins to You and stopped trying to hide my guilt.” – King David in Psalm 32:5;   “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” – James 5:16
  • Step six:  Be entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.  “Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up in honor.”  – James, brother of Jesus in James 4:8-10
  • Step seven: Humbly ask Him to remove our shortcomings. “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults.  Keep your servant from deliberate sins!  Don’t let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt  and innocent of great sin. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”  – King David in Psalm 19:12-14
  • Step eight: Make a list of all persons we have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all.  The Lord is good and does what is right; he shows the proper path to those who go astray. He leads the humble in doing right, teaching them his way.”  – King David’s song in Psalm 25: 8,9
  • Step nine: Make direct amends to such people wherever possible,  except when to do so would injure them or others.  “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” – Jesus preaching in Matthew 5: 23, 24
  • Step ten:  Continue to take personal inventory and when we are wrong promptly admit it.  So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn’t know any better then.” – Peter, disciple of Jesus in 1 Peter 1:12-14
  • Step eleven: Seek through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.  “… let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” – Hebrews 12:2
  • Step twelve: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to [people with addictions], and to practice these principles in all our affairs.   “And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him.  For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!”  – St Paul in Corinthians 5: 18-20

Recovery includes building healthy support systems, reconsidering one’s worldview, and gaining a maturing mindet.  A budding relationship with God adds new dimensions and disciplines we need time to implement.

If all we ever say is “I’m sorry,” and “just say no,” we miss out on the rich healing God offers for our deepest wounds. 

For a testimony on how recovery led one woman to Christ, click here.

Today’s Helpful Word

Mark 2: 15-17

Later, Levi invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. (There were many people of this kind among Jesus’ followers.) But when the teachers of religious law who were Pharisees saw him eating with tax collectors and other sinners, they asked his disciples, “Why does he eat with such scum?”

When Jesus heard this, he told them, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners.”

*********

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*Isaiah 1:16-17

pics from Kozzi.com

‘Twas The Night Before Church (an adaptation of The Night Before Christmas*)

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

‘Twas the night before Church, when all through the house,
 

One heard the (dainty!) snoring of a woman knocked-out.

Sunday’s outfit slung over her chair

In hopes that she wouldn’t forget what to wear.pdkrbsm

 

Chicken and rice was ready, and sitting in a dish,

Waiting to take to church in answer to her wish.

Her soft electric blanket held her in a tight wrap,

As she had just settled in for a long winter’s nap.

 

When out of the darkness there arose such a clatter,

She sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Her eyes to the alarm clock flew like a flash,

It was too early, so under her covers she dashed.

 

The clouded sun brightened a new-fallen snow

When she awoke realizing it was too late to go.

She glanced at the window when what should appear,

But four flying white-tails belonging to deer.deer-running

 

They ran in a row, simultaneouly quick,

She knew in a moment they must be God’s gift.

More rapid than eagles more creatures came,

And she smiled and shouted “praise to his name!”

 

” ‘Now, believer, now, Christian! now, worshipper, fall!

Come to the Father right where you are!

The deer may fly, but your spirit, too,

Come to me, child, for I love you.’

 

His voice was unmistakeable as snow flakes fly,

So she met with God there while looking to the sky.

The pastor is smart and no doubt did espouse,

But this morning at home, her heart God did rouse.

 

The deer long gone, their beauty elsewhere,

She walked to her office, paused, and sat there.

When she heard Him again, “daughter do as I might”,

So she set her fingers on the keyboard and began to write:

 

“God is dressed all in light, from his head to his foot,

And his clothes are all shining, so we read in the Book,

A bundle of gifts he has flung our direction,

Each of them chosen and given with affection.

 

“His eyes-they see each person! His heart is merry

When He looks on His children whose sins He has buried!

We bow and admit, Him we need to know,

And He makes our darkness as white as the snow.

 

“Hope is now possible, and we grin with our teeth,

Aware that for us He wore thorns like a wreath.

He died and lives again – to fill more than Christmas bellies!

Our spirits’ deep needs He meets… like a chef’s at a deli!

 

“In painful moments, we may put living on a shelf,

Yet may laugh because of Him, in spite of ourselves!

A look at His Word, acknowledging He is Head,

Soon remind us He knows we have nothing to dread.

 

“Remember friend, Jesus held seven stars in His hand,

Yet He reached out to John, and touched the man.

This is the God who loves you and me –

Able to hold the universe and close by us be.

 

“He will return in the clouds, (the angels might whistle!)

What joy when we fly up to Him like down of a thistle!

Whether once dead or alive, we will rise out of sight,

Shouting, ‘Happy praise to God!’, and ‘what a great night!’ “

npdauagToday’s Helpful Word

John 10:10

“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

-Jesus

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

 
*Clement Clarke Moore (1779 – 1863).  Twas the night before Christmas.

How Do We Know When It’s Safe to Trust God?

Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

purchased-from-joeSomeone once said to me they are afraid of heaven because it might be boring.

I’ve been afraid before that God might not work things out justly or in the right time.

Have you ever prayed for divine intervention only to worry and scramble for a solution?

Often, I think we want to trust that a Supreme Being has everything under control. When it comes our turn to take a leap of faith, that trust is challenged.

Taking the Dare

If you are a science fiction fan, perhaps you watched Nemesis, a Star Trek Second Generation movie. In it, Captain Picard puts a new contraption to the test. With enemy aliens coming from behind, and Worf firing at will, Picard drives a four-wheeled vehicle way too fast over bumpy and shifting desert sands. The big surprise is when you realize he has remotely commanded a shuttle-type flying machine to angle itself perfectly below the top of a cliff. As he drives wildly toward the edge, it looks like he is taking himself and passengers for a suicide ride. Then, AH! The vehicle lands safely in the back of the spacecraft and off they fly into safety.

Any difficulty may seem like a cliff, whether addiction, divorce, mental illness, financial difficulty, trauma, loneliness, job-related stress, or anything else. We approach a crisis point, a do-or-die choice, and realize we are at the end of known options.

Fear, which is not necessarily the cause, is fuel for depression. Our anxiety level rises. Perhaps our temper is shorter or we are more easily offended. We have to make a quality decision either for peace because God is on the other side of the cliff, or to hang on to fear. If Picard had not driven into what seemed empty space, none of them would have escaped the enemy.

Having Confidence 

For me, “Hmmm, I wonder if God really exists?” or “Does God care?” are not issues anymore. Developing a surrender relationship with Jesus over my lifetime has negated those types of questions. My doubts look more like, “I wonder if I will have to suffer,” and “Will God rescue me from suffering?”

My doubts are fear-based. I know intellectually God has my best interests at heart;  I need to relax and trust that. Situations that used to have ready answers are not so sure presently. Sometimes I wonder if I’ll see the answers I want, have the people in my life I think I need, or if I’m going the right direction. “How much will I have to suffer?”

Here’s the fun fact: every time I have feared, God has been on the other side of the cliff. Every time.

He shows me in little or giant yet always faithful ways that he cares about the details of my life. When I’m ready to run away or hide under the covers or quit, he will drop a “love note” in the form of something only he and I know I need. Just this week, a precise phrase spoken in church, wood for repairs given to me without requesting it, and being unexpectedly paid are reminders that God knows my needs before I ask. Not every gift from God is a permanent fix to my troubles. Each one is a gentle nudge from God who is ready to protect my heart.

All I have to do is run furiously toward him, nosedive into faith, and into his perfect plan.

images (16)Today’s Helpful Word

1 John 5

 In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,  for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 

– St. John

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

 

A Bible Teacher Goes Off On Me On LinkedIn; Charges “Psycho-babble”

 Compassionate Love Blog: Displaying compassion for those who struggle with mental illness   (c)2016  Nancy Virden, Always the Fight Ministry

Girl shouting with fingers in ears

Have you ever had a conversation descend into a shouting match? I appreciate strong opinions and enjoy calm (albeit intense) discussions as long as I am learning and the other person is open as well. The art of mature discussion is lost behind easily inflamed and “touched you last” word wars. Does this happen to you?

I have a friend Nick Katsouros, whose radio show recently came to a grinding halt over this very issue. He has strong views on which we do not always agree, yet I have been an invited guest on his show three times. He professes agnosticism yet has never tried to shut me up when I talk about the gospel. Nonetheless, people are attacking him because they read personal threat into his opinions. Nick’s aim is, and always has been, to help close this awful divide in our country through honest, civil communication. So few seem to want that.

A special moment happened this week when a dear friend willingly discussed the election although we have differing thoughts. What we do agree on is that God looks at the heart; how we vote is secondary to our clean conscience. What a relief to have this conversation and to agree to disagree without either of us coming away feeling attacked!

On Monday I ran across an article* on LinkedIn with “Do Not Care About Your Self-Esteem” in its title. Intrigued, and with an open yet cautious mind, I looked to understand this point of view. It was a good article which made some meaningful points. The author’s motive seems pure and kind. However, his interpretation of self-esteem seems too black and white. He uses the phrases, “Self-esteem is esteeming you more than others”, “Do not fall into the self-esteem trap”, and compared self-esteem to self-serving and self-focus.

I commented, which is rare for me, because I thought of all those wide-eyed scared women who have tried to leave abusive relationships. So often they feel worthless, helpless, and hopeless. Cognitively, in the moment it is difficult for some of them to hear new terminology and concepts. Truth has to be spoon-fed in some ways.

I also thought about all the women and teens who are presently trapped in abusive situations, especially abused Christian wives told to stick by their man no matter what. I think it is dangerous to use the term self-esteem in an “ooh, that’s baaaad” kind of way because so many people do not have a concept of worth. Coming down hard on terminology appears judgmental and condemning, in my opinion.

To me self-esteem is not exaggeration of one’s value, and is not conceit or self-focus. In fact, I suggest self-esteem is one foundation for humility because without it we are self-conscious and mindful of what others think. By understanding our spiritual place (sinful, in need of repentance and a Savior, yet deeply loved by God) we can grow a healthy and “sober” (reasonable) sense of self-esteem.

For example, I am a daughter of God. I stand with the only One who loves me unconditionally. He protects and rescues me because we love each other. I obey and surrender to him because he is God and I am not. Without this sense of relationship in God’s love, I was fearful, distrusting, and vulnerable to maltreatment. Now I acknowledge that God did not make a mistake in this creation. In fact, I am genuinely grateful for how he made me.

Yep. I tried to put this into calm, tactful words in my reply to this article. The author did not blast me – in fact he did not address me at all. A third-party, a Bible teacher, went off on me.

At first I thought it was going to be one of those learning experiences for both of us. He made solid points about the use of confusing language and how it disrupts the gospel message. I agree. He said psychological terms such as self-esteem, recovery, and addiction are confusing terms and should be abolished in Christian circles. I do not agree. He said part of repentance is thinking differently. I agree and appreciate his use of the original Greek to point that out. I believe changing how we think is a process that takes place over time whereas he seemed to imply thinking differently takes place in an instant do-or-die moment.

I expressed three concerns: (1) Using terms like “psycho-babble” promotes stigma (hence shame) that may keep some people from seeking help at all.  (2) Some vulnerable people will remain trapped in self-loathing because they think it’s the holy way (3) Abuse victims serve and serve. Mothers serve and serve. Women suffer breakdowns because they do not know it is ok to say no. Telling them self-esteem is a no-no may actually deter them from godly boundaries.

At this point he started using capital letters and lots of exclamation points. An undeniable tone of sarcasm underlined his statement, “Again, I suppose you have wonderfully proven our point.” Clearly my meanings were disregarded as he reacted only to the words I chose. I was lumped in with the apostate church and not-so-subtly accused of being a false teacher in the worst sense of the phrase. 

Our battle is not against words, but against falsehood. Against losing souls. Against not loving our neighbors because we won’t meet them where they are or speak their language (a social and spiritual issue). Vitriol and back-handed condemnation are why we look like blubbering fools when we try to present Christ as the Truth, Way, and Life.

When I fully realized he was shouting angrily at me, I addressed some of my meanings he had misinterpreted or twisted, and then backed out. I wrote, “I am not here to cause division in the Body.”**

His response? The ultimate character assassination: “I understand the cognitive dissonance of renouncing the unbiblical “recovery” teachings, due to the fact that it would affect one of your titles, ‘Recovery Advocate.'”  

So, I guess I am too proud and filled with selfish ambition to care about Christ’s way. That’s reminiscent of an ex-pastor who claimed I would not try to protect my son from suicide because I “profit” from depression!

Good thing I know God loves me!

photo-24719064-architects-at-work-site. Today’s Helpful Word

1 Peter 3:15
But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…”    –
St. Paul

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COMMENTS ARE ALWAYS WELCOME (see tab below)

NOTE: I am not a doctor or mental health professional. I speak only from personal experiences with and observations of mental illness. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental health care.

If you are struggling emotionally today or feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Hope and help is yours.

*Rick Thomas, Christian Coach, Speaker, Author & Podcaster. Article:  Teen Tip 3 – Do not care about your self-esteem. Published on LinkedIn October 17, 2016